The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has warned his colleagues to grant less interviews to the press.

He advised that they talk to each other about their grievances rather than granting interviews that will create a wrong impression.

He gave the warning on Wednesday while reacting to complaints by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who frowned at an interview that aired on Channel Television on Tuesday evening.

The interview featured the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe.

Mr Omo-Agege had raised a point of order at the start of plenary stating that Mr Abaribe breached his privilege by some comments he made in the interview.

In the interview, he said, Mr Abaribe stated that senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) conspired to shortchange the host communities when the Senate considered the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

“Most specifically, he made a remark that prior to the consideration of the bill, there was an agreement of the entire Senate that the host communities will be given five per cent. And notwithstanding that agreement, the APC, as a party, took a party decision to reduce the five per cent for the Host Communities to three per cent.

“I am the Deputy Senate President and also represent Delta Central senatorial district in the Niger Delta. There are many communities in my district that are Host Communities based on the provisions of the PIA.

“There was never a time that I am aware of that the caucus of the APC as a political party, within and outside the Senate, met and took a decision that host communities be shortchanged by reducing the five per cent to three per cent,” Mr Omo-Agege said.

The lawmaker added that the decision was taken by the Senate and the bill has been passed into law.

“We know that those of us that were dissatisfied, an opportunity will be given to us to have this part amended.

“I feel very offended and I believe all members of the APC in the Senate equally feel offended that their privilege has been breached. Because I know that there were PDP senators from the Niger Delta who also voted the five per cent. We all fought on this floor until the majority decision – which is what democracy is all about – was taken.

“It was not partisan. It was neither a PDP or APC position as canvassed by Senator Abaribe.”

Lawan reacts

In his remarks, Mr Lawan said the Senate did not vote along party lines.

This is even as he asked senators to grant less interviews to the press.

“When the Senate takes a decision, we should inform the public correctly because it is our duty to give the correct information to the public.

“I will encourage us to talk less to the Press on ways that will give the Press a wrong impression. We should concentrate more on talking to our colleagues in the Senate.

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“I would have loved to give the Minority Leader an opportunity to speak but this is a matter of privilege. I hope all of you have learnt a lesson or two from this.

” There is no point giving wrong information because we never voted along party lines,” he said.

The controversy surrounding the five per cent operating expenditure for host communities in the Act still lingers.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the consideration and passage of the bill was done amid chaos both in the Senate and House of Representatives with Niger Delta lawmakers insisting that the communities be given five per cent.

President Muhammadu Buhari has since asked aggrieved lawmakers to seek amendment to the Act.

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